Reclaiming My Life!

Our newest member of the family - sweet lil' Aura.

Our newest member of the family – sweet lil’ Aura.

The time has come!  I am reclaiming my life!  Somewhere along the way over the last five years I seemed to have lost myself.  Forgotten who I was.  What I believed in.  What I’m passionate about.

An old friend was visiting last week and commented on how different I was from other small town suburban moms near her who had no idea what was going on in rest of the world, never followed current events, and couldn’t hold down an intelligent conversation.  I said nothing but realized I was no longer the person she remembered me as.  I had become one of “those moms”…  And I asked myself – What happened to the person who used read the NY Times each morning?  The one who used to attend political rallies and protests?  The one who dreamed of joining the peace corps?  Who traveled the world?  Where did she go???

So I am on a quest to find myself and reclaim my life.

And I took a major step towards this goal last week…  I went and bought myself a round-trip ticket to Europe to go on a spiritual healing pilgrimage.  Hell yeah!!  I am SO EXCITED!!!!

In less than two months I’ll be heading to Portugal, France, and Italy for an 8 day solo journey to three different healing sites; Fatima, Lourdes, and San Giovanni Rotondo (to get me some more Padre Pio healing oil).  And I’m taking a few days in Venice too.  I’m going in with no expectations, no attachments…  Just wonder and joy and curiosity.

Booking these tickets was such a huge step for me.  Being away from my precious 4 year old…  Stepping away from my role as mom, wife, daughter, household manager, and cancer patient…   Until last week taking an international trip by myself seemed like an impossible dream.  My “roles” in life have come to define me and take on some weird supernatural importance.  I questioned how everyone would survive without me.  And then I realized my role as mom, wife, daughter, and cancer patient had become more important than my own life, my interests, my passions, my dreams.  How did that happen?  When did this happen??

It seems I just kept putting everything and everyone else before myself until one day I looked up and realized I didn’t know who I was anymore.  And I know I’m not alone in this.  Us cancer patients seem to show a propensity for these behaviors.  They call it the ‘Type C Personality’ and I’ve written about it before on the blog here.

But I realize things have to change.  My life has to change.  This last five year chapter has been tremendously tough and yet I can’t seem to move forward.  I feel stuck.  Trapped.  Overwhelmed.  And at the same time excited because I know I’m on the brink of something utterly fabulous.  I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I get there.

So I will.

I will travel.  I will dance.  I will read.  I will write.  I will laugh.  I will spend more time with my favorite people just like I did last weekend at our housewarming party (thanks to everyone who came out!  It was great to see you!).  I will live for myself and not just for others.  I will try new things.  I will indulge in a glass of wine and an extra piece of chocolate.  I will have more fun!

I’m in the midst of reading Anita Moorjani‘s book Dying To Be Me where she recounts her near death experience from cancer and how the experience brought her back to life and ultimately healed her.  It’s an amazing and thought provoking book.  Her reminders about unconditional love, seeing the world through fresh eyes, and living your truth reinforce my own beliefs and reconnect me to the some of the fundamental tenants of living fully and without fear.  The book also reminds me of the power of the mind, the possibility of miracles, and the importance of connecting with spirit.  I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I am reading this now as I struggle to reclaim my life and embark on my own spiritual journey.

And I think i’ve decided I need the help of a life coach to round-out my healing team.  I spend so much time in my head, intellectualizing & philosophizing and I think I need someone who can pull me out of my head and root me in the present and push me to take action.  So if you know of any fabulously brilliant and effective life coaches please email me at:  gracefulwomanwarrior@gmail.com and let me know.

Also fee free to tell me about any spots in Europe that I simply cannot miss out on.  (I’ll be going to Lisbon, southwest France, Rome, Venice, and Milan.)

In the meantime I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust that eventually I’ll reach that utterly fabulous place that I know is just around the corner.

Or could it be that I’ve already reached it???

Peace.  – T

Hubby & I at our housewarming party!

Hubby & I at our housewarming party!

Family nature walk

Family nature walk

Not Letting Fear Get In The Way

The rock cairn I built near my meditation spot.

The rock cairn I built near my meditation spot.

I’ve been struggling lately.  Caught up in the fear.  The fear of my cancer being back and the fear that this inspires in everyone around me.

I am finding it really hard not to allow other people’s fears to invade my thoughts and take root in my body.  Especially as I choose to treat my body the natural holistic way and “just say no to drugs!” – The idea of that scares people.  Makes them uncomfortable.

But I am realizing that it’s not about them and what makes them uncomfortable.  It’s about me.  My life.  My decisions.  And yes, it is scary sometimes… Going out on a limb…  Doing things differently…   Refusing the usual standard of care…  But maybe all the encounters with fear and doubt from others is just a test.  How strong is my faith?  My belief?  Am I willing to honor my truth?  Trust my intuition?

I realize now that my appointment with oncologist #1 was a test of my faith.  My wall was not fortified enough when I saw her.  And her fear and guilt and negativity managed to seep in through the bricks.  I do not think it’s a coincidence that it was only a week or two after that appointment that the pains started up in my body.

Last week I reached out to my mom, the heavens, & the Universe for guidance.  And since then, a number of perfectly placed healing paths have presented themselves to me.

First is my new-found love of running!  Something I never thought I was capable of (I was the girl who couldn’t run around the field in elementary school without getting cramps).  But lately, I’ve been running the streets, the trails, and the parks with ease.  And the beautiful part is that when I’m running the daily pain I feel miraculously disappears.  I become entirely focused in the moment.  The ‘runners high’ takes over and life feels good.  So I keep doing it.  And am now setting a goal for myself to run a 5K in the next year.  Take that cancer!

Another thing that sustains me is my Exceptional Cancer Patients support group with Bernie Siegel.  I had my third group this week and was so inspired, touched, and boosted up by the energy of everyone there.  We’re different ages with different cancers, different treatment plans, and different stories but we all share a common outlook of hope and possibility.  

At the end of group Bernie always does a guided meditation.  This week he had us envision our current self and our “ideal” self taking a trip together.  Where are we going?  What is our ideal self like?  Well, me and my ideal self (Lola) were going to Venice…  Getting lost in the alleys, eating delicious food, drinking wine, and laughing out loud.  When I asked Lola what I needed to do to be more like her she said “Have fun!”.  At the end Bernie asked us to merge our two selves and the tears were streaming down my face.  When I opened my eyes the other facilitator leaned over and told me “Just find your joy honey!  Do things that bring you joy!”  It was as if she read my mind.  That group is amazing.  

Then to top off my week, I managed to find the most amazing acupuncturist.  My naturopath prescribed acupuncture for my pain and after going to two sessions this week (including a 2 1/2 hour long intake) it is definitely working.  I am beyond thrilled at the new insights, the reassurance, support, and oh yeah – the pain relief.

My acupuncturist practices holistic Asian Kosho Shorei Ryu style medicine including Yin/Yang or “Eight Principle” medicine and Five-Elemental Constitutional Medicine which looks deeply at how the workings of the mind & emotions contribute to holistic wellness or illness.  His intake included a 2 page “Personal Vitality Assessment Form” asking about the disharmony between mind, body, & spirit.  The questions were brilliant and thought provoking.  And in our sessions he schools me on the meridians of the body and their mental and spiritual connections.  It’s fascinating!  And I will definitely blog more about it in the future.

I’m just so thrilled to find someone who truly recognizes the necessity of addressing the mental piece of disease.  The further I go into this journey the more I’m convinced that the spiritual and mental piece is one of the most important for true healing.

So I keep doing the work…

Regular meditation, including signing up for a 2 day retreat in December, and looking for a sangha to practice with…   Finding a new therapist (I’ve been to 2 sessions already – And today we did an amazing exercise using EMDR to connect with my inner child that had me in tears)…  I’m also re-doing my vision board (and promise to post a pic when it’s done)…  Working through Lissa Rankin’s amazing and thought provoking “prescription for health” from her book Mind Over Medicine…  And even trying to squeeze in a 15-day writing to heal challenge with Michelle Pammenter Young (a fellow breast cancer warrior in British Columbia).

Although I still feel like so much of my life is about cancer these days, at least when I focus on nourishing my soul and spirit I don’t feel the resentment that usually crops up when I focus strictly on my physical self.

One of the questions on my acupuncture intake that I loved was, “What advice would you give yourself to help you become as holistically healthy & well as you want to become?  And based on your advice, what commitment are you making for the next day?  Week?  Month?  Year?”  I don’t remember my advice exactly, but I do remember the commitment I made for the next year…

  • Run a 5K race
  • Travel somewhere new & far away
  • Send out query letters to agents & publishers for the memoir I’m writing
  • Heal myself of cancer and all dis-ease

Maybe it’s time we all thought about what life we want to be living, who our “ideal” self is, and how we go about getting there.  I still believe anything is possible!

Much love,  – T

My meditation spot by the ocean.

My meditation spot by the ocean.

On my morning run through the local State Park and the bird sanctuary.

On my morning run through the local State Park and the bird sanctuary.